Happy Independence Day!

     I hope that everyone has a happy and joy-filled holiday weekend!
The idea of independence got me thinking. Not only because of July 4th but also because I have three children who are living the desire for independence, hampered by the realities of economics. Independence is a tricky thing. Somedays we want it, completely, and other days we just want a place to belong, to feel that we can be ourselves, and truly be at home.
     Home is a powerful symbol: Home—the idea of a true place of rest—where you are accepted for who you are, and loved unconditionally. In reality, Home is often a messy, crazy, emotion-filled place of the psyche. It is as different for every one of us as we are different from each other. For the young, it can be a place to launch from, or to abandon asap, or a sometimes, too safe, place, that holds you back from growth and development. For those of us who are in midlife or older, it can be a sacred place, where our families grew, a place of refuge from the world, or a place stuffed full of memories that feel increasingly hollow and empty.
     The drive to leave home, to be independent, to strike out on one’s own, in order to find your fortune, your personal adventure, is as old as human culture itself. There are two times in our life cycle that are tailor-made for launching into adventure, self-exploration, and re-creation; the first is adolescence / young adulthood and the second is Midlife. It is possible to re- create yourself at midlife. Whether it’s a new career, owning your own business, a creative project, a divorce, a new relationship, a move, or personal growth, midlife is a built in time of re-assessment, remembering and re-creation on the treasure map of human personal development. Do you feel the call toward independence from what was? Take the leap, a new adventure awaits.
Sailing

After 6 Weeks the seeds of growth are planted

Last evening was the last session of my 6-week workshop,” Writing Your Next Chapters.”
There is a special bond that forms between women who gather to explore and encourage one another on their journeys. Though all the participants were over 45, they were all in their own unique place in their lives. Some were stepping out into new independent lives, their kids having grown up and flown the coop, and some still had middle-schoolers and all that that entails.  Each woman provided unique perspectives and input to the group. The most diverse plurality makes the most perfect unity.
As I work with clients, it never fails to amaze me how powerful Metaphor is for self-understanding and growth. It allows us all to reframe our experiences from the past and the present, creating a new lens with which to look at our lives, our experiences, and ourselves. It may even crack open old patterns of behavior that no longer serve.
Today, while reflecting on the last six weeks, I went looking for a creative image to represent this particular group of women, myself included. The impressionist painting from 1891 by Camille Pissarro, “Peasant Women Planting Stakes,” captures that hope of new beginnings, the anticipation of growth to come, and the planting, deep in the earth, of frames and structures for the seedlings to grow on. Grow on ladies, grow on.

Peasant women Planting Stakes

(Blog first published on http://www.midlifereboot.expert)

Returning from the Wilderness. . .

db-316-norway-0084-3717

I haven’t been blogging lately, but Goddess knows I’ve been writing. Conference papers, a Ph.D. dissertation in its early stages, marketing, and content for a new business website have all been occupying my writing lobe, keeping me far away from my deep, internal, home space. I have been an exile in the world of making money, expanding my Vitae, my reputation, my brand recognition, all so I can launch my business and help to ease some suffering. Suffering in exile in order to find people who want to find some way to ease their suffering. What a strange circle I have created.

Blogging gives me a chance to reflect, to stop, and think about something else, something not dollar driven. The world of commerce, commodity, digital marketing, and communication is exhausting. I have the soul of an artist, a creative and a thinker. I could sit on the beach, watch the water, think all day, and never be bored, for weeks. Then I might come up with an idea and I would feel the muses urge me to write it down. It speaks to the need of just being. Those quiet moments are few and far between for everyone these days.

The question many of us seem to be dealing with these days is, ” How many balls can I keep in the air before I drop one or the other?” Technology is fantastic, yet, as it speeds ahead we have to go faster and faster to keep up with what seems like daily changes to operating systems, upgrades to hardware, revisions of programs and new app developments. It exhausts me thinking about it.  Politics isn’t helping either. Are we better off than we were 4 years ago? 8 years ago? 10 years ago? Was it better 20 years ago?

It doesn’t matter. All we have is now. Making the best of now. Making it better now, for everyone. Ease the suffering. Ease the suffering. It is my, “If you build it they will come” whisper. It’s in my ear constantly, it’s in the wind and the sighing of the sea.

So here I am, back home from the wilderness of commerce for a minute or two, going to ground, touching base with my Self. I’m tired, I’m a liberal, and I am frightened about so many things that are happening. From N. Korea and the Russian sandal to the environment, and global warming, to poverty, defunding of education, and healthcare… the list goes on and on.

I will keep fighting and working because there is no rest in giving up, not when there is still and always so much suffering. Ease the suffering. There it is again, revealing my privilege.

 

Trump is the Mythical Trickster, activating Action and Hope

Sitting in front of my computer tonight, the night before Donald Trump’s inauguration as President of the United States, I am resigned to do battle. I am Merry riding double with Eowyn, heading straight into a battle from which there is likely no return.

rotk1561

LOTR, Return of The King, Directed by Peter Jackson for New Line Cinema, adapted from the books by J.R.R.Tolkien

Or am I Eowyn, taking my destiny out of the hands of others and riding into battle with another more innocent than I in my care? I am both.

Donald Trump’s victory took me and many others by surprise. It is a hard lesson and an important one for the Democratic Party, realizing that there were so many people feeling voiceless, exhausted, desperate, defeated, and angry after a long, unwinnable war and a Great Recession which ripped jobs, homes and hope from so many. It has been a tough eight years; my family was on the verge of losing our home more than once during the recession.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Faced with political candidates that represented the same policies that had not produced results, millions of voters put their hope in Trump. He offered a new, everyman appeal that resonated with disenfranchised Americans. A multimillionaire, whose home is gold-plated, who has divorced and bankrupted more times than I care to count, tells us he is going to fix everything and he is the only one who can do it, and many people believe him. Desperation makes people believe and do almost anything.

Donald Trump is what archetypal psychology calls a Trickster. It is not something you try to be, it is an energy that is created by and acts on the culture you live in. We conjured him with our desperation. The father of archetypal psychology, C G Jung writes regarding the Trickster archetype; “. . . he is a faithful reflection of an absolutely undifferentiated human consciousness, corresponding to a psyche that has hardly left the animal level” (Jung, 1969, p.260 [CW, 9i, para 465]).

and  penned a wonderful description of the Trickster in their essay “Decoding Donald Trump: The Triumph of Trickster Politics:”

“The trickster is a universal figure, appearing in myths across cultures. The trickster is a figure of excess, especially of eating and drinking, and of sexual exploits, often depicted with an enormous phallus — the very grotesqueness of his figure denoting an inversion of order. The trickster is a breaker of taboos, a joker and prankster, the best of companions, but also a thief, a liar and an impostor; the mediator between the gods and the humans, a figure of shadow and night, the one who accompanies the soul of the dead into the underworld, snatching himself a soul now and again. In many storylines, the trickster is a vagrant who happens to stumble into a village, appearing as if out of the blue, just as a crisis has erupted. He tries to gain the confidence of villagers by telling tales and cracking jokes. He is an outsider without existential commitments. He is also a mime, telling people whatever they would like to hear — all according to the occasion. The trickster holds no real knowledge but practices a cunning intelligence. The trickster manages to impose himself, not because of his real qualities, nor by enabling the people around him, but by blurring distinctions. Rather than making clear the difference between truth and lie, the trickster thrives in ambivalence. While presenting himself as a solution to the crisis, he actually perpetuates insecurity by blurring boundaries and undermining the very sense of distinction and judgment. In fact, the trickster is not really interested in solving the crisis. His real interest lies in perpetuating conditions of confusion — his own habitat. The trickster is a demonic clown.

The sense of empowerment that tricksters manage to produce feels real enough for a while, but it evaporates as suddenly as the trickster entered the stage, and dissolves in nothingness. Before that happens, however, entire societies can drive themselves to destruction. The trickster is a professional in creating and escalating division up until violence breaks out, at which point he manages to represent himself as a savior. That is why in many cultures the trickster is defined as a ‘second creator’ — a nullity, a nobody, a prankster who yet, under special circumstances, creates the world in his own image.”

As a Trickster, Trump creates his own reality and it doesn’t matter if he changes his positions from day-to-day to him they are all true. A trickster lies, and in his mind, the ends justify any and all means. So here, now, we are left with all of his campaign promises, with which he won the election.

“I will not touch Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.”

“I will bring manufacturing back to the US and millions of jobs.”

“I will replace Obama Care with something better and everybody will be covered.”

“I will lower taxes on the Middle Class.”

Time will tell if President Elect Trump will even try to deliver on his promises to his supporters, or if like the Trickster, he will do what he wants when he wants, without care, regret or shame. Only a trickster would nominate people to his cabinet who want to destroy, cripple or eliminate the departments they are nominated to lead.

So, Like Eowyn and Merry, I will ride out and do battle to preserve the environment, slow climate change, preserve public education, save our heath care, social security, support massive infrastructure and green energy spending, fight for civil rights, LGBTQ rights, indigenous people’s rights and women’s rights.

The trickster comes at a time when a society needs to wake up and face its shadow, face its failures and do better. We Can Do Better. We must do better for all Americans, the world, and the generations to come.

Why Obama Care Rates Are Rising; Or, Why Aetna Can Take Their Damn Ball and Go Home!

aetnaanthemprofits

We the people of the Untied States (meaning our government, which is us…) need to be more careful whom we let onto our playground.

Aetna, a for-profit insurance company that participates in covering Americans under Obamacare, is crying and whining that they are losing money covering previously uninsured Americans, who signed up for the low-cost insurance programs. How much profit is enough? Aetna is making enormous bottom-line profits!

They are currently trying to conduct mergers with other insurance companies, one being Humana. Like a spoiled rotten kid on the playground, they told the and the Justice Department, if the merger was not approved, they would pull out of the Obamacare exchanges. Actually, this sounds more like healthcare blackmail to me.

Huffington Post reporters, Jonathan Cohen and Jeff Young, blew the story wide open when they obtained and printed a copy of Aetna’s CEO threatening the DOJ.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/aetna-obamacare-pullout-humana-merger_us_57b3d747e4b04ff883996a13

 

In a very clear and concise article, posted on August 29, 2016, Wendell Potter, a writer for Moyers & Co., details exactly, the profits and returns from all aspects of Aetna’s business. They are making handsome profits. Here are some of the highlights.

  1. […]”since January 2014, the date Bertolini mentioned above, Aetna has reported operating profits of $6.7 billion. That’s right. Even though Bertolini said Aetna hasn’t yet turned a profit on its Obamacare business, overall it has pocketed nearly $7 billion.”
  2. “Since March 5, 2009 — the day President Obama kicked off the debate on what would become Obamacare — Aetna’s stock price has increased 631 percent.”
  3. “Now, here’s something else you need to know that most of the media ignored. Aetna made a boatload of money between April and June of 2016. Both revenue and profits were up considerably over the same period in 2015. Aetna’s operating earnings increased 8.5 percent, from $722.1 million during the second quarter of 2015 to $783.3 million in the second quarter this year. Total revenues for the quarter increased to almost $16 billion.”
  4. 4. “During the first six months of this year, Aetna actually got almost as much revenue from taxpayers via the government’s Medicare and Medicaid programs ($13 billion) as it got from its privately insured customers ($14 billion). In fact, Aetna’s government business is growing while its commercially insured book of business is shrinking.”
  5. “And get this: Aetna and the other big insurers wouldn’t be getting as much profitable business from the government if not for Obamacare. Keep in mind that most of the newly insured Americans have coverage because of the Medicaid expansion made possible by Obamacare. Aetna and many of its competitors have benefited financially from this expansion because many states contract with private insurers to manage their Medicaid programs.”
  6. “And then there is Medicare. Aetna and many other insurers participate in the Medicare Advantage program, the private alternative to traditional Medicare, and they’ve figured out how to convert a lot of the billions of dollars in revenue they get from the federal government to profits.
  7. So, thanks to Obama — and more specifically, Obamacare — Aetna and its competitors are rolling in the federal dough.”

If this isn’t maddening enough, the obscene compensation that Aetna Chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini receives further prove that greed is KING in the US. Again, I ask, how much is enough? According to the Hartford Courant, […] “CEO Mark Bertolini received $27.9 million in compensation last year, according to a filing Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. About $24.8 million of the package was due to gains in value on restricted stock that vested in 2015 and on stock options he was awarded 10 years ago and exercised in 2015. The total was up from $15 million in 2014. His compensation also included $1,034,483 in salary, $1.84 million in cash bonus, and $271,908 in perks, mostly from the cost of his using the corporate aircraft for personal use. The Courant calculates compensation as the sum of salary, bonuses, and value gained on the exercise of stock options and the vesting of stock awards, and the value of perquisites, such as the 401(k) match and personal use of corporate aircraft. Separately, he received $5.97 million in restricted stock and $8.14 million in stock options whose ultimate value will be determined in future years.

All that, combined with the profits Aetna had made are not enough, not enough to justify continuing coverage Americans who need insurance?

Let’s review.

Since the start of Obamacare, they have made $7 Billion in Profit.

In the last six months, Aetna made nearly as much from Government contracts for Medicaid and Medicare $13 Billion as they did from their privately insured customers, $14 Billion.

GO HOME AETNA. GOOD RIDDANCE. But, our pails and shovels, all of our Medicaid and Medicare customers will come back to us, you get NONE OF THEM. They will go the nonprofit insurers like Kaiser, who’s CEO was quoted in Potter’s article as saying, “I view it through the lens of my mission,” Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson told Modern Healthcare reporter Bob Herman last week. “It obligates to us to figure it out, not to get out.” Tyson said his company, a $61 billion system that includes health plans, hospitals, and medical groups, is “absolutely” sticking with the exchanges over the long term. “The idea that I would turn my back on a segment of the American population who really needs the coverage and the care — I’m in for the long haul,” Tyson said.

Let’s hear it for Americans’ health before obscene profits and compensation packages!

You can make a profit fine, but not pornographically on the backs of sick Americans.

Let’s all send this idea to our congress people and Senators; they are always at a loss for good ideas.

 

Read More

http://billmoyers.com/story/cry-river-aetna/

http://www.courant.com/business/connecticut-insurance/hc-boston-aetna-20160408-story.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/aetna-obamacare-pullout-humana-merger_us_57b3d747e4b04ff883996a13

This post was first published in the Column “Lean to the Left” in the Santa Clarita Gazette.

Khizr Khan, the Right Messenger at the Right Time

IMG_0068This post first appeared in the Opinion section of The Santa Clarita Gazette, by Andrea Slominski on 8/04/2016

It is possible that the words of a Harvard-educated Muslim immigrant from Pakistan, and his wife, may just save us from ourselves. How fitting, that by sharing their love of America, their reverence for the Constitution, and the insurmountable loss of their son to suicide bombers, that Khizr and Ghazala Khan remind us of the principles that structure our republic, and that have held it together for our brief 240-year history. We are stronger together. Together, Americans have achieved the improbable.

Khizr and Ghazala Khan’s son, Captain Humayun S. M. Khan, was killed by two suicide bombers at a checkpoint north of Baghdad on June 8, 2004. In fact, suspicious of the approaching vehicle, Captain Khan ordered his men to “hit the dirt” and stay back, while he took another 10 steps forward, stopping the car. The two suicide bombers inside detonated their vests, killing Kahn and wounding 10 other U.S. soldiers. That is the definition of a hero. He put the lives of others before his own. He protected his men.

In an interview with “Vocative,” an online news source, Khizir Khan said, “Muslims are American, Muslims are citizens, Muslims participate in the well-being of this country as American citizens. . . . We are proud American citizens. It’s the values (of this country) that brought us here, not our religion. Trump’s position on these issues do not represent those values,” he said.

How ironic and beautiful that a Muslim American Citizen, an immigrant, whose story IS the American Dream, should school Donald Trump on what it means to be an American, what is means to defend the Constitution, and the equal rights it offers all citizens.

Khan continued, speaking of his son, “Values that he learned throughout his life came together and made him a brave American soldier. This country is not strong because of its economic power or military power. This country is strong because of its values, and during this political season, we all need to keep that in mind.”

Yes, we do need to keep that in mind. We also need to remember Mr. Khan’s remarks at the Democratic convention.

“If it was up to Donald Trump, (my son) never would have been in America,” Khizr Khan said. “Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities – women, judges, even his own party leadership. He vows to build walls and ban us from this country. . . . Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending America – you will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one. We can’t solve our problems by building walls and sowing division. We are stronger together.”

Boom. Mic Drop.

Read More?
http://www.vocativ.com/259159/the-father-of-a-muslim-war-hero-has-this-to-say-to-donald-trump/

Global Warming or why…

This is a column I recently wrote for “The Santa Clarita Gazette” a conservative paper in my hometown. I will be writing weekly, the opinion column “Lean to the Left. This is my first…to go to the column copy and paste this link into your browser. https://santaclaritafree.com/gazette/opinion/lean-left-global-warming#comment-27090

Earth NASA Image

Global Warming, or why our grandchildren will most likely hate us.

The biggest problem currently facing humankind is global warming. Boom. That’s it. It doesn’t matter if we believe it or not. With or without our consent and acknowledgement, the oceans are acidifying, sea level is rising, and permafrost is melting, releasing methane into the atmosphere. Methane holds atmospheric heat 30% more efficiently than CO2,, thus increasing the rate of warming and it’s effects on the oceans. The planetary crisis of Global Warming has caught up to us. When I was an undergrad in 1978, studying marine biology, it was already happening. My professors at the University of Rhode Island, home to one of the finest marine research facilities in the world, were screaming about it then. No one would listen. They were considered alarmist, nuts. Well, people are beginning to listen now.

“On July 20th, (2015) James Hansen, the former NASA climatologist who brought climate change to the public’s attention in the summer of 1988, issued a bombshell: He and a team of climate scientists had identified a newly important feedback mechanism off the coast of Antarctica that suggests mean sea levels could rise 10 times faster than previously predicted: 10 feet by 2065. The authors included this chilling warning: If emissions aren’t cut, ‘We conclude that multi-meter sea-level rise would become practically unavoidable. Social disruption and economic consequences of such large sea-level rise could be devastating. It is not difficult to imagine that conflicts arising from forced migrations and economic collapse might make the planet ungovernable, threatening the fabric of civilization’” (Holthaus).
Scary and true. Currently, there are over 400 dead zones in the oceans documented by oceanographers, where no life exists. Divers are frightened by it: They should be. We were never meant to be alone in the oceans. In his book Ocean of Life, Callum Roberts quotes the scientists who dove in; “As you go deeper, it gets kind of scary. Because there’s nothing there. There’s no fish, no organisms alive, so it’s just us” (121). Predictions for the future of the oceans run the gamut, from hopeless, to hopeful. Ocean acidification, due to the high levels of CO2 the ocean is absorbing from the atmosphere, is already beginning the dissolve the shells of snails, oysters and mollusks and kill off plankton, the base of the food chain.

Did you know that nearly half of the world’s populations live on or near the coast, harvesting twenty percent of their annual protein from the oceans? Poor and rural communities harvest thirty percent more. We are facing rising sea levels, acidification, the looming extinction of species and growing garbage patches that cover hundreds of miles in all of the deep ocean gyres. Whether you like the terms Mother Earth or Mother Nature the truth is the oceans feed us, and are the regulatory systems and engines of weather patterns, droughts and floods alike. How many refugees will be created by flooded coastal cities and parched farmlands? How are we going to care for our families and each other? What kind of world are we leaving for our children and grandchildren?

A movement has begun in both the Eastern and Western traditions, re-assessing the role of religion and the church in environmental leadership. Pope Francis’ recent Encyclical, “On Care for Our Common Home” was an eloquent and timely plea to the world, an environmental and social call to action. Equally, the life’s work of the Dali Lama has been of care and compassion for all living beings, including the Earth. Time is running out. We must deepen our concern and broaden our actions on a massive scale in order to save our oceans and our planet, for our grandchildren and their children, lest our names memories, and lack of action, be cursed throughout history. It’s time for some serious American, environmental, leadership. We got to the moon in eight years after we made the decision to do it. Let’s ditch fossil fuels, we can do it; we are Americans and we can do anything we put our minds, grit, muscle and heart into.

Read more

http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/

Eric Holthuas, http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-point-of-no-return-climate-change-nightmares-are-already-here-20150805